Self-Portrait of the Commando

image©Ronny Someck

To commit the perfect crime first you will need a block of ice.  A shard
of it will pierce the victim's jugular vein
and fresh blood will melt away the fingerprints.

Thus violence can turn a page of poetry into the neck of a sentry
the moment before your legs hop the barbed wire fence
and dance in the heart of enemy territory.

At age eighteen I chewed nails,
spit rust.
And it was only because of my poor eyesight that I wasn't allowed in the Navy.
The sea was painted in the beautiful recruitment-officer's eyes,
and motor-boats put-putted onto her lips' shores.
She almost said, "get a camera, and take a picture of your life.
If you ever lose it,
at least you'll still have
a copy."


-- Translated from the Hebrew by Henry Israeli





Ronny SOMECK (IWP ’92) was born in Baghdad in 1951 and moved to Israel as a young child. He has published eleven volumes of poetry and, with his daughter Shirly, two books for children; he is also a performer and a graphic artist. His work has been translated into 41 languages, among them Albanian, Arabic, Catalan, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Macedonian, Nepali, Russian, Turkish and Yiddish. A selection of his poems is forthcoming in 2015 from White Pine Press. He is the recipient of numerous national and international poetry awards.

Henry Israeli is the author of two collections of poetry, with a third one forthcoming in 2016, and the editor and co-translator of the work of the Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku (IWP '99). A recipient of a NEA Translation grant, he teaches in the English Department at Drexel University.


8.1 Spring 2015

  1. Editorial

  2. The postcard

  3. Fiction

    • Marguerite FEITLOWITZ / In the House of Stories
      Blindfolded and bound in the boot of an unmarked police car, the boy was delivered to the House of Stories...
    • Marie-Louise Bibish MUMBU / Me and My Hair
      The Bana mboka, the kids from here, versus the Diaspora, those who banished themselves. Fresh-Bagged versus The Bottled Stuff. Rainy Season versus Winter. Stayed versus Left. On Foot versus Driving. Boubou against Low-Waisted Pants...
  4. Poetry

  5. Non-Fiction

  6. Book review